Look into the eyes of Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton, and what do you see? A wild sycophancy that has led the man to the edge of a nervous breakdown, perhaps?
Though others might have sensed madness, a naive Conan O'Brien put his trust in Lipton and agreed to be the subject of an Actors Studio episode that slowly morphed into an interminable audience hostage situation, says a TV Squad member in attendance. Apparently, Lipton's interviewing skills employed both zero preparation and an absolute, comprehensive interrogation technique that would rival a Scientology audit:
"What is your mother's name?" "What is the name of the primary school you attended?" "What did your father do for a living?" These are only a few of the questions that led Conan to crack, "I feel like I'm applying for a credit card." [...]
Maybe it was the fact that Lipton totally has a mancrush on O'Brien that made this interview the longest thing ever. After the first hour, we were just getting to Conan's experiences at Harvard. Around hour two, O'Brien started making desperate jokes about hiding the rest of Lipton's cards. Around hour three, he finished his pitcher of water and downed an entire glass from Lipton's.
It was nearly midnight when Lipton got to his last blue card, and it was actually a little disappointing for me. After spending a good chunk of time talking about and showing clips from Lipton's appearances on Late Night, get got to the juicy stuff: namely Conan's planned takeover of The Tonight Show next year. Conan has been noticeably quiet about the subject, and I was hoping for some dirt. Unfortunately, we didn't get anything more than him saying he was excited and nervous—and that they'd fly Lipton out to L.A. so he could still be on the show.
All in all, when the nearly 4 hour interview was finished, everyone felt drained. Even Conan seemed to be glad it was over.
Sadly, things soon turned grim when Lipton pushed his luck and advanced a Proust questionnaire in overtime. A desperate O'Brien turned the tables by flinging himself on the man, choking him around the neck, and screaming, "If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Because you're almost there, you obsequious pimp!"